Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

We started 2012 off with a reunion for the CILTs of 2010. This crew of old kids continues to be one of the most relational and well-connected groups of people I know. Even though it had been a year and a half since their summer together we wanted to bring them back one more time. I still vividly remember conversations, life stories and testimonies that were shared in that 24 hours.

I got to spend lots of quality time with my dear friend Molly Henry in the end of her Senior year. When I mention her name my sister usually says, "Isn't she the one you eat pizza with?" Yup. Molls and I loved eating pizza, going on adventures, singing and dancing in the car, watching chick-flicks, visiting camp friends, cheering on mini-marathoners, exploring the city, crafting and always having fun together.

I led Young Life in Carmel and was so thankful to be part of this incredible community. I loved Monday nights that started with worship in the Miller basement altogether and ended with conversations in a circle with my girls upstairs in the guest room.

I got to lead with incredible leaders that love God and love kids and love life so well. Many of them were some of my very best friends and I loved that we got to spend so much time together. They inspired and encouraged me so much.

I loved making trips up to Holland, MI to visit old Hope friends and to see my sister Katie, Nick and baby Lincoln. Becoming an aunt was one of my favorite parts of this year.

The CILTs of 2011 came back to camp for a weekend full of COLOR! It was so fun to be back together again. These kids are awesome--so full of life, courageous, smart and always so fun. I'm so thankful for them and that so many of them want to stay connected to each other and this camp family.

We celebrated the 3rd Annual Friendship Bracelet Day in March with a festive meeting of the FBC and then bracelet making with camp girls after school.

Molls and I road tripped to Peoria to visit friends and surprise Mary Claire at her play. It was so cool to finally get to see the homes of Maggie and the Mooneys and to have a whole weekend together to play.

I finally got to check "Visit Harry Potter World" off my bucket list. My Spring overlapped with Kaitlyn and Megan's so we all went to the park together.

I spent the week in Orlando with Katie, Nick and Linc visiting Disney parks and hanging out by the pool. Sarah Briggs came down to stay with us the second half of the week and it was so much fun to be on the trip together.

I drove up to the Day Camp open house with fun friends. Even though I'm not on DC it's so fun to go back to camp because almost the entire staff is comprised of my old campers. This weekend also marked the second full year of writing Overlap.

We had some interesting Clubs for YL in the second semester but my favorite hands down was Hunger Games style Capture the Flag. Playing for Team Rue was an honor.

I was lucky to get to invest in a group of awesome 8th grade girls. They were the ones that stopped by room to talk every passing period, ate lunch with me once a week, signed out to my SLT and wrote lists together on Fridays.

I got invited to do Bop to the Top with them (climbing the One America tour stairs) and run the Geist 5K together. These girls are the best. At this point I knew that YL would probably be starting next year and it felt like these were already my YL girls.

These girls also were responsible for the best birthday surprise a teacher could ever have. They decorated my classroom before I got to school, gave me creative and handmade gifts, brought me kind notes all day long and made me feel so special and appreciated.

I'm so thankful for the girls that made up our Campaigners group this year. A mix of Seniors and a couple Juniors, these girls were such a beautiful mix of friend groups, personality types and interests. I loved that even though we were all so different we could still come together each week in this common ground to dive deeper in our faith and have conversations that really matter. I loved leading with Eshan and seeing her bloom in this setting as a new leader.

I loved living right down the street from camp friends Rachel, Emily and Sara and it was always even more fun when friends would come to town to visit. I'm so thankful that my camp friends really have become my real life friends.

Our school had it's first annual teacher-student dodgeball tournament. I got to compete with Haleigh, Haley, Libby, Jack, Jimmy and Connor-- a crew of some pretty fantastic kids. Although we were enthusiastic (in both dodgeball and social activism) we didn't make it very far in the tournament.

I got to help with a bible study of 8th grade girls for the second year in the row. I loved spending every other Friday morning with all of these girls. It was such an awesome opportunity to be able to share my faith with this group and have devotional conversations with them.

Because our school district is growing so quickly our Junior High was going to be turned into a Freshmen Center for the 12-13 school year and all of our teachers would be moved to a brand-new building. This meant that spare time in the last month of school was spent taking everything off of the walls and packing up our classrooms. Room 201 was where I spent my first three years as a teacher and started figuring out how to do this.

The summer of 2012 was a special one for my family. My dad announced his retirement after 40 years as executive director of Tecumseh and this would be his last summer. Nick decided to come and run the pool with Llama so he, Katie and Linc moved back home. The whole family was back together.

Morph, Jamie, Colleen, Arielle and I were the proud CILT counselors for this summer. They each brought their own talents, personality and fun to the program and it was one year I won't soon forget.

I don't think I could ever say enough about how much I love this place.

I can tell you about my CILT girls, about the best counselors I've ever worked with, about my old campers that have grown up to have cabins of their own, about adventures and traditions, about cheers and songs...

about my little Blazer girls and kids in my hip-hop clinic, about devotions and dance parties, about nights under the stars that shine so bright over Main Field and afternoons digging for mud in the shallow end of the Richard G Marsh Lake. And even if I told you about all of that, there would still be more to tell.

This has also been the year of Love Does. We got a copy of Bob Goff's book for every counselor this summer so that we could all read it together. The stories in this book are the stories of Bob's life combined with stories of the gospel. Their is truth in these pages about the type of faith and relationship with God that I think we're all called to have. I love seeing people with their own copy of the book and encouraging others to give it a try.

Part way through the summer I left Tecumseh for a week to go on an adventure that I'd been praying about and hoping for. I got to go to Wyld Life camp in Michigan with a bus full of kids and leaders from Hamilton Southeastern. Young Life was really happening.

Those five days were five of the best of my life. I had so much fun with the girls in my cabin and getting to see their first experience with Young Life. When they first stepped off the bus they were all a bit shocked by the Work Crew kids dancing and singing all around them, they just had no idea what to expect.

After five days of Club, Cabin Talks, 1 on 1s, meals shared together, late night adventures, Real Life, playing on the zip-line, ropes course and blog, going on walks around the lake and living the dream together no one wanted to leave. God is so obviously at work in their lives and doing such big things.

I was so encouraged by this trip and it made me that much more excited for YL to happen all year long back at home with these kids and their friends. This crew got hooked and suddenly they were YL's biggest fans because it had already had such an impact on their own faith and friendships.

I'm so thankful for these leaders and kids that got to start it all together. I already can't wait for our camp trip next summer.

Tecumseh goes from the day after school ends to the day before school begins again. This meant I had a one day window before I went to Wyld Life camp to set up my classroom in the new building. I brought Mom, Katie and Linc down to Fishers and called in reinforcement of FBC, YL and bible study girls to come in and help. Our little army had the whole room set and decorated in just a couple of hours.

I moved back in with Colleen and Emel for our second year together. This was the first time I didn't move since I was a Senior in HS. It was so nice not to have to move all of my furniture and to get to keep living with people that are so positive, kind and fun. 

My school always goes on a 7th grade field trip to Tecumseh but this year's was extra fun because the HS counselors included some of my YL kids and past students for the first time. Maggie came up for the first half of the week too and it was SO fun.

The FBC started back up as strong as ever with a whole new crew of girls. I love getting to hang out with them every Thursday afternoon and have fun together.

Ben invited Mary Ellen and I to drive up to Chicago and surprise Sarah at her birthday party. She was totally shocked and we got to spend the whole weekend together in the North Shore and exploring Chicago. I'm thankful that even though she's moved away we're all still so close.

There was a huge party for my Dad's retirement from Camp and it was such a special night to honor him and the giant impact he's had on Tecumseh.

I was invited to lead a new bible study of girls this year, a group of new 8th graders that were a mix of my old students and girls I didn't know very well at all. We're reading Love Does together and I love talking about these stories together. Each week they share the parts they've circled and underlined and we talk about how we can make all of that transfer into our own lives.

We had a Wyld Life cabin reunion and it was so fun to all be back together again. I got to have conversations with these girls about their dreams for YL and I was so encouraged by their vision and hopes and dreams.

Young Life kicked off with weekly Campaigners. Kids that came with us to camp were there as well as so many other freshmen and sophomores that were excited about finding out more. That first week we met I was so excited and so nervous. I never could have predicted what would happen in the months that followed.

Kids were hungry to dive into their faith like this, to be part of an authentic community, to engage in conversations that matter and to have the opportunity to be vulnerable. I won't forget those early weeks in the Robertson's house with all the girls in one big group in the living room, everyone so excited to be there.

Our group got so big we had to start meeting at a different house down the street where we would have room to grow even larger. I'm thankful that God has brought together leaders that care for these kids, parents that are supportive, a committee that wants to make sure we have a strong foundation and High School kids that are so excited about being part of something bigger than themselves.

We celebrated Lincoln Wright Dekoster's first birthday party with a Cowboy and Indian birthday party!

Every Fall brings a whole new crew of camp kids to hang out with Indy. Kind of like YL Camp Tecumseh Edition. It has been so fun to hang out with the most recent CILTs this year and keep getting to know them better.

My weeks began to fill up with my new Young Life girls-- soccer games, frozen yogurt trips, volleyball matches, pumpkin carving, crafting, heart to hearts, list making and birthday dinners. It was so different to lead for kids that I've known for so long. Because I was once a teacher for so many of them I have the privilege of knowing many of their families and almost all of their friends. It's a blessing to now get to have this role in their lives.

This past semester has been my favorite thus far as a teacher. I had such an awesome collective group of students. The days when I was frustrated were rare and it was much more common that I was always excited to be there writing, laughing, talking and creating with my kids. I'm so thankful that I get to work with fabulous teachers like Hodgin, KCraig and Kocher that make me excited to come to work each day. I'll have new students come the new year but I'm trusting that the rest of this year will be just as great and I'll at least get to see my old kids in the hall during passing periods.

We took a bus full of freshmen and sophomores on a Fall Weekend trip back up to Timber Wolf Lake in MI. Our kids were stoked for our three day escape and it ended up being one of the best weekends ever. We laughed so hard we cried (and some of our girls might have even peed a little), danced and sang at club, stayed up late talking, climbed the pamper pole, rode the Giant Swing and Timber Carts, grew closer and learned so much.

For Mom's birthday weekend Katie, Bethie and I went up to Chicago to meet Sher-Dog and Jon at their book signing of Young House Love. After reading their blog it was so cool to meet them in person.

I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to go on a mission trip in Mexico with four YL families. I went with three of my YL girls, their parents and siblings to Ensenada to build a house in just two days for Sylvia and her kids Irving and Diana. It was such an awesome couple of days and so great to be able to share something like this with Libby, Haleigh and Haley.

So much of 2011 was spent Skyping with Annie and Maggie. 2012 wasn't too different except that Annie and Mags were Skyping from new locations. I'm so thankful for these girls, their friendship and their consistency in my life.

Ben is so darn great at surprises. He invited Mary Ellen, Michelle and I to be part of his proposal to Sarah. We got to kidnap her from dinner, take her to the church and then celebrate the engagement with the two of them together.

After saving boxes of t-shirts under my bed for nearly a decade, Mom and I finally made my first t-shirt quilt together at this year's Mother Daughter Quilt Camp. Every block has a story and I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's at the quilter's now and I'll get it back to put on the binding in January.

With Young Life going so well, we had to start Wyld Life (Junior High YL) too. Over 100 kids showed up to our first event when we took buses to Carmel's Wyld Life Club. In December we had our own Club--our kids are enthusiastic and so much fun.

I love getting to be able to great my students, FBC girls and their friends when they walk into Club. We got to have a mini-Campaigners after the last talk and I'm so thankful for these girls.

Our school organized our first ever teacher-student Amazing Race and I got to be Team Boomslam Overall with Anna, Olivia, Erin and Julia. Who knew school could be so much fun?

One of my favorite December traditions is always the Winter CILT Reunion. It was so great to see the CILTs from this past summer all back together again. It's been months since we've seen these campers and it's the first time that all the sessions get to mix together.

I loved having time back with all of these kids and with a crew of awesome counselors, a glow stick dance parties, love tanks and devotions, crazy outfits and extremely gross challenges, reminiscing about the summer and making new friends.

My family spent Christmas together up at Crystal Mountain skiing, playing games and just living life together-- I'm so thankful for my family.

2012 has been another great year of friends, camp family, Young Life kids, teaching awesome students and figuring out more about who I am supposed to be and what I am meant to do. I hope that with whatever comes in 2013 I will be able to continue to find joy, take opportunities, love people well and live life to the full.

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